Monday, January 30, 2023

Tough questions ahead for DLNR nominee Dawn Chang, advocates want free school lunches for all, dozens of albatross eggs destroyed by pigs, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

DLNR Nominee Dawn Chang Faces Tough Questions About Her Past Work. Native Hawaiians are split on her nomination to lead one of the state's largest and most impactful agencies.  A groundswell of opposition is growing among local conservationists and some prominent Native Hawaiians who want to see Gov. Josh Green withdraw Dawn Chang, a former deputy state attorney general and private consultant, as his nominee to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Civil Beat.

Suspending laws is a recurring tactic in Hawaii to shelter homeless.  An emergency order focused on homelessness allows Gov. Josh Green to bypass more than two dozen state laws in areas that include contract procurement, land use and environmental review in order to speed efforts to shelter people living on sidewalks, in beach parks and other places not fit for human habitation. Star-Advertiser.

Bills would expand fees to access Hawaii state parks, trails.
Visitor “green fees” are already in limited use at state parks — most notably at the popular Diamond Head State Monument — but there’s renewed interest in the state Legislature this session to expand the concept to generate revenue to help protect Hawaii’s environment.  Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Legislature: Inside The Push To Make School Meals Free In Hawaii. Hawaii lawmakers are weighing multiple proposals to address the gap between the number of students who are currently eligible for free school meals and the number of students who actually need them. Civil Beat.

Hawaii women lawmakers push bills for working mothers, abuse survivors. More than two dozen women state lawmakers make up the bipartisan Women’s Legislative Caucus and this session, their bill package aims to help working mothers and survivors of human trafficking and domestic abuse. Hawaii News Now.

Assortment of Hawaii bills aim to curb illegal fireworks. Nearly two dozen bills have been introduced this legislative session in an effort to crack down on illegal fireworks, with proposals to create task forces, increase fines and boost inspections of shipping containers. Star-Advertiser.

Pair of bills aims to benefit neighbor islands in OHA trustee voting. The Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee has approved a set of measures that would change the way Hawaiʻi residents elect trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Hawaii Public Radio.

Satellite study shows subtle signs of climate change in Hawaii. Researchers have examined satellite images of Hawaii over four decades and concluded the islands have endured significant “browning,” or declines in vegetation health. Star-Advertiser.

Humpback whales plentiful during first count of the season.  The threat of bad weather didn’t deter volunteers on four islands from grabbing their binoculars and logbooks Saturday to observe and document humpback whale behavior in the first of three coordinated whale counts in 2023. Star-Advertiser.

How Pearl Harbor Became ‘The Nation’s Chief Pacific Outpost’. As early as 1907, more than three decades before the pivotal events that catapulted the United States into World War II, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole believed Hawaii was in serious danger of attack by Japan and that the islands were being left defenseless. Civil Beat.

Hawaii workplace deaths decreased in 2022. Three workers died on the job in Hawaii in 2022, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Star-Advertiser.


Bill proposes the state acquire Sunset Beach lots hit by erosion. Nearly two dozen oceanfront properties along Sunset Beach on Oahu’s famed North Shore would be condemned under a bill proposed this year by state Sen. Chris Lee that seeks to save the beach from being lost to erosion. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Homeowners Are Shocked At New Property Tax Bills.
Here’s Something That Could Help. Several states have so-called "Truth-in-Taxation" laws designed to mitigate the sharp property tax increases like the ones Honolulu homeowners are facing. Civil Beat.

Waiahole families facing huge rent hikes as farmers fight to keep local agriculture alive. The Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation says the proposed rates are well below market value and tenants need to pay their fair share to maintain the valley. KITV4.

Winter wave contests help sustain Oahu’s businesses, services. The North Shore’s economy is riding as high as the big winter waves as a number of surfing competitions from the “Eddie” to the World Surf League’s opening championship tournaments bolster interest in the region, leading to residual opportunities for a financial boom. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Big Island energy plant case heads to high court again. Honua Ola Bioenergy’s tireless effort to begin producing renewable energy for Hawaii island enters another chapter Tuesday when the Hawaii Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the company’s latest appeal to vacate a state Public Utilities Commission’s decision that denied the company’s power purchase agreement with a Hawaiian Electric subsidiary. Star-Advertiser.

Puna roads EA expected soon: County ready to push forward with work. After a year of waiting, the next step in the restoration of Puna roads severed by the 2018 Kilauea eruption is nearly complete. Tribune-Herald.

Kilauea Avenue rehabilitation set for this spring. A 2-year-long project to improve Kilauea Avenue in Hilo is expected to begin this spring. Tribune-Herald.

Lawmakers considering $250,000 settlement in case stemming from sexual assaults at Kona school. The state Department of Education is set to pay a quarter-million-dollar settlement in a 2021 case brought by a Big Island family alleging the agency failed to protect a female student from repeated sexual assault on a public school campus. West Hawaii Today.

Kona Community Hospital seeks $20M for repairs. On the west side of Hawaii island, Kona Community Hospital serves a growing population in a facility that’s almost 50 years old but desperately seeks funding for much-needed repairs, according to its leaders. Star-Advertiser.


Alice Lee Is Chosen To Lead The Maui County Council As Chair. After a rocky start to the new term, the Maui County Council now has all nine members seated and, for the second time this month, a new council chair. Civil Beat. Maui News.

Multiple Molokaʻi schools will be closed Monday due to severe weather. The Hawai‘i State Department of Education’s five public schools on Moloka‘i will be closed for students and staff on Monday, Jan. 30, due to impacts from severe weather.  Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Maui County sees largest vacation rental supply, occupancy, average rates in state. Maui County had the largest vacation rental supply, occupancy and average daily rates of all four counties last month, according to a recent state report. Maui Now.

Community-based solar projects offer energy independence to Molokaʻi renters.  The savings offered by community solar could make all the difference for folks on Molokaʻi, where energy costs are the second highest in the state, outranked only by Lānaʻi. Hawaii Public Radio.


Kawakami back from mayors’ conference.
  Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami traveled to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to participate in the U.S. Conference of Mayors 91st Winter Meeting. Garden Island.

A State Abortion Coordinator? Hawaii Lawmakers Consider Overcoming Barriers To Access. A Kauai doctor's lawsuit recently helped expand access. But there are still plenty of hurdles, particularly on the neighbor islands. Civil Beat.

DLNR to commission 42 new officers in Hawai‘i, nearly doubling staff on Kaua‘i. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement will add 42 recruits to its ranks in March, increasing the division’s staff by 50 percent and nearly doubling its presence on Kaua‘i. Garden Island.

Albatross rescued after pigs destroy 60+ eggs at nesting site. The Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on Kauaʻi reported that 64 mōlī eggs were “crushed or eaten by pigs on Nihokū, beginning on Dec. 22. Maui Now. Kauai Now.

Sperm whale carcass washes up on Kauaʻi beach, prompts agency response. Officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources say the cause of death of the 56-foot-long whale is under investigation, and won’t likely be determined for some time. Maui Now. Kauai Now. Hawaii News Now.

Help protect Kaua‘i’s birds by keeping cats inside. In an effort to cultivate the importance of cats belonging indoors, the Kaua‘i Humane Society is partnering with Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture to offer a variety of incentives and educational opportunities to the community. Kauai Now.

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